In her cheerful July 2 Xpress article, “Welcome to the Happiest Place in America,” Alli Marshall didn’t mention joy expert Eric Weiner’s conclusion that Denmark is the happiest place on Earth. Here are some of the reasons why, according to my research.
The Danish maximum workweek is 37 hours, with a minimum of six paid weeks of vacation as well as nine national paid holidays. Health care is free and timely for all—no questions asked, almost no expense spared—with freedom to choose your dbut a main result is that people choose careers less based on pay or status, and more for what they love to do. In addition, private business still thrives, with the Danes ranking third in global competitiveness while maintaining a healthy growth rate and low jobless level. The government subsidizes the arts, but the money is awarded by a commission of private citizens (with membership rotated often).
Denmark also has one of the lowest poverty rates on Earth. Because few people are desperate, vegetable stands and bicycles are routinely left unattended and unlocked. Bike trails abound and are often separate from roads. Education is free at all levels. If you wish to go back to school, your tuition is paid and you get a $750 a month stipend for housing and food. You can be easily fired from a job, but every person [is allowed] four years of generous unemployment benefits during her/his lifetime. Thus there is also little hesitation in quitting an inhumane or unfulfilling job. The government even subsidizes friendship by financially backing almost any club that anyone can dream up.
Looking at these facts, I conclude that America is in the barbaric backwaters of the pursuit of happiness. Asheville’s high relative happiness occurs despite such a primitive system.
— Bill Branyon